Trailer sway happens, this is how you can prevent it.
If you have a trailer, and you’ve hauled it with a tow vehicle, you’ve experienced trailer sway. The trailer is moving side-to-side like a fishtail and if it doesn’t get in control it could cause some serious damage or accidents. Understanding trailer sway control can save you from those things, but first, you need to know why it happens.
The main cause of trailer sway is an improperly distributed trailer tongue weight is applied to a hitch ball. Other factors can contribute as well, like the trailer itself, weight distributing bars, the tow vehicle suspension, tires, cargo weight distribution, and proper hitch adjustment.
Trailer sway happens when too little tongue weight is applied to the hitch ball causing friction to the tow vehicle’s rear wheels. The trailer continues swaying through friction until the sway is controlled.
Since we know the distribution of the tongue weight on the hitch is the main cause of sway, it is also the key to understanding sway control. To prevent trailer sway, trailer tongue weight should be 10-15% of the fully-loaded trailer weight for trailers over 2,000 pounds. As long as that weight is properly distributed, anything you encounter that could impact the balance of the tow vehicle or trailer shouldn’t start a trailer sway.
If those external encounters do cause trailer sway, the tow vehicle could be at fault. Understanding trailer sway control involves several factors, and the tow vehicle is one. If the tow vehicle is going too fast in wet conditions, even the mildest of winds could start trailer sway. This is because as speed increases, tire traction decreases. If you have good tires that are rated for the weight and mind your speed in adverse road conditions, you can prevent trailer sway.
Trailer and tow vehicle maintenance are also big factors in understanding trailer sway control and preventing trailer sway. Particularly, the trailer and tow vehicle suspension. If the trailer’s suspension and vertical stabilization are maintained and functioning well it helps immensely. The trailer’s weight distribution bars are your other best friend. These bars help distribute the weight evenly and create a flow that allows the tow vehicle’s rear tires to grip successfully so traction is not lost.
Before you head out on a road trip, check these items so you can prevent trailer sway as much as possible:
- Hitch adjustments
- Weight distribution bars
- Trailer suspension
- Tow Vehicle suspension
- Cargo weight distribution
Even the most minor accidents in your trailer can cause serious damage and cost you serious dollars to repair. Make sure you have the right hitch and tow vehicle for the weight of your trailer. Every tow vehicle has a limit or max capacity, and in that calculation, you have to include the trailer or RV weight, fluids, fuel, cargo, and passengers.
Lastly, when understanding trailer sway control, it’s important to know the tools out there that can make the job easier. You can purchase a trailer sway control kit to help prevent trailer sway. The trailer sway control kit decreases the lateral movement that may be caused by wind, uneven roads, passing vehicles, or any other external factors. It’s easy to install so you can use it all the time or only when you think you need it.
We hope this article will help you in understanding trailer sway control so your adventures are safer and your trailer is following directly behind you as it should be!